sfprankster's WSM (mis)adventures

Discussion in 'Roll Call' started by sfprankster, May 6, 2015.

  1. I've been a backyard BBQ fanatic for several years(10-12), with a high percentage of successes on a variety of meats, veggies and pizza, on an old Weber kettle. I recently purchased a WSM and today is the first dry burn to begin the seasoning process. Tomorrow will be the fun part, and possibly to make my gf nuts, thefirst run with some fat supplied from my favorite butcher. :)

    Built without any mods:

    Having an OCD tendency to change what works by design into my own personalized version, I have already  added a few mods to my WSM before the first burn. 

    1) Added a second charcoal grate with a pair of eye bolts to make cleaning as little easier.

    2) Added a gasket kit to the aluminum door and lid. Not the cleanest work I've done, but effective. :(

    3) Added a few washers to the top grill mounting tabs.

    4) Using a small Weber electronic thermometer inserted through the silicone plug to be able to check the WSM temperature in the cooking area.

    5) Changed to a Brinkman water bowl.

    The plan is to start small, with a chicken or two at first. Then onto easier cuts until I learn the ins and outs of the WSM

    Having access to a commercial kitchen gives me room to start making brines and my ultimate goal, brined/smoked pastrami. :)

    Wish me luck!!!

    Any recommendations on a meat thermometer I can read without opening the smoker?
    Last edited: May 6, 2015
  2. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I'd ditch the water pan, or more exactly not fill it with water. Wrap it in foil and run dry. Have you tested your therm? Boil some water out the tip in and see how close you are to 212f. Can vary a few degrees depending on your altitude and the barometric pressure. But if you are within 5-7 degrees you're probably good.

    Any of the remote Maverick therms, or the iGrill are good. I own both and use my iGrill2 all the time and the Mav is my back up.
  3. I have no plan to fill it with water, more to deflect the heat/smoke to the outer edges of the WSM.

    The therm in the lid is off by 35-38 in boiling water. No plan to use it at all.

    The digital is much closer, off by 3 in the same boiling water test.
    Last edited: May 7, 2015
  4. [​IMG]   Good morning and welcome to the forum, from a nice day here in East Texas. Lots of great people with tons of information on just about  everything.

  5. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Welcome to SMF sfprankster!  Great job on setting up the new WSM.  As far as wireless therms go most of the folks opt for one of the Mavericks, aka RediCheck, aka Ivation.  IGrills too.  The probes are the weak point on the Mavs but a little shrink wrap where the lead connects with the probe and you're good to go.

    Lots of WSM fans here, including me. 

    Have fun!      

  6. Glad you joined the group. The search bar at the top of any page is your best friend.
    About anything you wanna know about smoking/grilling/curing/brining/cutting or slicing
    and the list goes on has probably been posted. Remember to post a QVIEW of your smokes.
    We are all smoke junkies here and we have to get our fix. If you have questions
    Post it and you will probably get 10 replies with 11 different answers. That is
    because their are so many different ways to make great Q...
    Happy smoken.
  7. Thanks for the welcome!!

    I just ordered a Maverick therm, should be here Monday.

    1st seasoning run on my WSM with a grill of beef brisket fat( or as my gf calls it, beef bacon).

    1 hour:

    2 hours:

    3 hours:

    I used the Minion method(45 lit and 3/4 full ring, 2 chunks of cherry for smoke) for starting the briquets, since I'm familiar with this method on my Weber kettle. So far, I'm finding it fairly easy to maintain a stable temp of 265-275 on this run. I just have to remember to make small adjustments on either the intake or exhaust vents, not both at the same time, wait a bit, and check for the change in temp.
    Last edited: May 7, 2015
  8. tropics

    tropics Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Your digital may not be wrong check on Boiling water at high altitudes 
  9. Not really at high altitude here, just a tad over 1200'. For me, a +/-3 degree range is workable.

    I'll give it a test tomorrow at my commercial kitchen in Santa Cruz. Less than 50' elevation there. [​IMG]  

    I'm noticing a small amount of smoke coming from behind the WSM lid therm. Is it advisable to apply a little RTV silicone between the therm and the lid?
    Last edited: May 7, 2015
  10. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I wouldn't. As it junks up it will seal up. If you want to hurry up the process spray some cooking oil on the interior of the lid around the therm.
  11. Thanx!! The amount of smoke escaping is minimal.

    Another run planned for tomorrow with more beef brisket fat

    Well, 4 hours into the first seasoning and still some charcoal remaining for maybe another hour or two. I can see the advantage of having a remote therm to keep up with the changing temps. Today, the weather wasn't the most ideal, with a few showers and temps jumping up and down by 15 degrees, with the changing cloud cover.

    4 hours:


    This piece of beef brisket fat came out like pork chicharrones @ 4 hours. I can see smoking pork belly in the my future.  [​IMG]

    Still more smoking for another hour or two.

    Charcoal after 4 hours:

    Last edited: May 7, 2015
  12. one eyed jack

    one eyed jack Master of the Pit

    Welcome to the site.  Congratulations on your new smoker.  She's a "beaut."

    Most folks advise against closing the vent at all,  (Unless you happen to get a run away fire).

    I have three years worth of smokes on my 18.5 WSM and have never felt it necessary to set the vent at any thing less than 100% open.

    The best trick with the WSM is to catch the temp on the way up and start early closing your drafts.

    Judging by your test smoke pics you'r well on your way to smoking nirvana.  [​IMG]
  13. mike5051

    mike5051 Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    You've gotten some good advise!  Keep the top vent wide open and control the temp with the bottom vents.  I've been using mine for almost 2 years and it keeps getting better/easier.  No water in the pan, just foil it for easy clean up.  Welcome to the forum, enjoy!

  14. I'll give it try tomorrow on round 2 of the seasoning process, leaving the top vent open and playing with the lower vents.
  15. one eyed jack

    one eyed jack Master of the Pit

    Good luck and have fun.  [​IMG]
  16. jirodriguez

    jirodriguez Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    With a brand new WSM you will find the 250° mark is going to be top vent 100% open, two bottom vents 100% closed, and the third bottom vent about 1/2 open. Remember they burn a bit on the hot side when new, so damp it down early or it will get away from your, then it's really hard to bring back down.

    Best of luck! [​IMG]
  17. Thanks for the vent advice!! Just the information I needed to find a way to shorten the experimentation process. [​IMG]

    I'm running round two of the WSM seasoning, once again with beef brisket fat. The top vent is 100% open and one of the lower vents 40-50% open. The temps are holding steady, in the mid 230's, after the first couple of hours. 

    So far so good!! Getting a little anxious to begin actually smoking a few chickens and some char siu sometime next week.

    That's when the fun will begin!! [​IMG]  
    Last edited: May 14, 2015
  18. welshrarebit

    welshrarebit Master of the Pit

    Char siu? I'll be following that smoke...
  19. one eyed jack

    one eyed jack Master of the Pit

    I think that all of the effort you put into sealing it up,  (With the gasket kit), has put you ahead of the game as far as temp control goes.  Most WSMs need several smokes to "gunk up" the leaks enough to gain control of air flow and maintain low and slow temps.  If you can hold mid 230's I think that you are pretty much ready for anything you want to try.

    One thing I will mention:  You mentioned loading your ring to 3/4 full.  I will suggest that you load it full in order to allow longest possible smoking time.  I always fill my ring and simply save unburned briquets for my next smoke.  It is a bit messy to save the unburned briquets but the "used" briquets work just fine in the  second go-around.  You might well, eventually wind up needing to add smoke time beyond what a full ring will provide.  I added a pair of screen door handles to my 18.5 to make it easier to dismantle the smoker while hot and loaded in order to add briquets.

  20. After reading up on the WSM, it seemed to have the best bang for the buck and most mentioned adding the gasket kit right away. With the ring at 3/4 full, it ran just over 8 hours yesterday, at 270-280. Today, I'm keeping it below 240 and will be logging the difference in run time.

    With the gasket kit, there's a minimal amount of smoke escaping from the edge of the lid, a tiny bit from where the therm mounts in the lid and none from the door. After 5 1/2 hours today, it's holding the mid 230's without much adjustment to any of the vents. I had one hole fill with ash and I ended up closing that vent and opening another 40-50% and it never missed a beat. Unfortunately, I have to work out of town all weekend, but as soon as I get back on Sunday night, the pork butt begins to marinate and the char siu smoke begins on Monday. [​IMG]  

    I can see the addition of the handles on the sides of your WSM could become very useful. 
    Last edited: May 9, 2015

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